Saturday, October 18, 2008

Audiosurfin' USA

Anybody familiar with the gaming community/network Steam has doubtlessly heard (if not already a proud owner) of Audiosurf, a rhythm/"music" game with an interesting twist.

The megapopular mainstays Guitar Hero and Rock Band rely on a system of colored "bars" that more or less function as musical "notes" on a scoresheet. (Those unfamiliar with Guitar Hero, Rock Band, etc. are probably already lost at this point: take a gander at the Guitar Hero video review here for a glimpse at what I mean). In Audiosurf,, these on-screen colored cues aren't notes on a scoresheet; they're cars on a highway, and rather than tasking the player with matching these colored bars to buttons a joypad or controller to "play" a song, Audiosurf needs no newfangled, awkward insrument-shaped controllers: you need merely the arrows on a keyboard or a computer mouse to navigate your vehicle as you traverse the musical highway...crashing into as many cars as you can along the way.

Well, sort of, anyway. Think of this game as "musical Tetris": the color-coded "cars" on the highway don't cause your vehicle to crash immediately; they are stored in one of three columns (each column corresponding to a lane on the highway), and by placing three cars of the same color in either a row or column, the player not only scores points, but like in most "falling block" puzzle games, the blocks (or cars, in this case) disappear and the columns are emptied. Likewise, if the columns are filled, the car crashes and the player loses points.

Keep in mind that the "cars" that appear on the "highway" correspond to musical notes of a song; the game also marks changes in the rhythm of a song with sudden sharp turns and uphill climbs. The best part? Audiosurf doesn't use a pre-set song list like most games of its type; any music file on yor PC harddrive, music CD, mp3 file, etc. can be used! Scores are tracked online, as well, if you wish, and it was quite a shock to see that I had racked up a 15,000 point score on the Salve Regina highway only to find out that someone had outscored me! Apparently I'm the only one who's been travelin' down Fr. Groschel's The God of Mercy and You freeway, though. No surprises there...

With a $10 price tag, I can't recommend this game enough. I'll never understand how I missed Audiosurf when it released earlier this year, but I'm sure I'll be playing it for many years to come.

1 comment:

Brian Saint-Paul said...

I'm an AudioSurf fanatic and it has quite a following among the InsideCatholic bloggers as well.

There are several game modes to AudioSurf, and not all of them involve the Tetris-style block matching. In fact, the most popular (by far) mode works more like a driving game: You avoid the gray blocks and try to hit the colored ones. There's no matching or puzzling involved and the colors of the blocks has no further significance... It's all about steering. If you choose an upbeat song, the track will be fast, and you'll have lots of white knuckle action. If the tune is slower and more downbeat, you'll have a dreamier, trippier experience.

That's the only mode most people play (I find the other offerings a bit distracting, actually.)

Anyway, as you say, for $10, this is a must-buy. That's particularly true if you have a large MP3 library on your computer. You'll start ripping your favorite songs just to see what kind of tracks they'll create.